High-rise flats without space threaten a road to ruin

CROYDON COMMENTARY: In the midst of National Trust tours and an architectural re-appraisal of the development of central Croydon in the 1960s, DAVID WICKENS expresses his fears that 2016’s planners risk not only repeating some of the mistakes of the 1960s, but creating many more

How Croydon North End looked in the 1960s, before the Whitgift Centre or Centrale: how many retailers are to go the same way as Woolworths?

How Croydon North End looked in the 1960s, before the Whitgift Centre or Centrale

Today’s “experts” critical of yesterday’s ones? If only we could fast forward 50 years and see what they think of today’s experts.

Currently the theme or solution to the redevelopment of central Croydon is high-rise flats and a huge shopping mall. I seem to remember high-rise slums being demolished and “dead mall syndrome” becoming more common elsewhere. Having recently visited Shrewsbury, I saw signs of their malls struggling. There are plenty of more examples in the United States.

The price of the new flats proposed in the rebuilt Whitgift Centre will surely deter all but the very wealthy and I see them being bought as investments, rather than being sold to local people as homes to live in.

It remains a fact that people have cars and will want to park them. There will not be room for the residents of these 1,000 flats as part of the high-rise developments to park their vehicles, under the proposals submitted so far.

The current proposals do nothing to increase areas of open space in the town centre, and which is identified in the Architects’ Foundation film as lacking. The various tall buildings, including the sheer bulk of Hammersfield, will perpetuate the skyline and lack of visibility also mentioned by the documentary.

The underpass on Wellesley Road will witness many changes around it - but will the traffic jams disappear?

Wellesley Road today: have the planners ever considered an alternative?

No schools are proposed to serve the proposed residents in the redeveloped centre.

Unless, of course, you consider the primary proposed on the Purley Way, which is just about the worst location for children to grow up, bearing in mind the air pollution.

The much-criticised road layout of the 1960s redevelopment of Croydon was never completed. Had the northern link road been built, it would have provided a ring road serving the car parks, shops and businesses.

Current experts are ever critical of the width of Wellesley Road but without it, how would Hammersfield be accessed, where would the trams run and how would North End have been pedestrianised?

We can all see the congestion when Wellesley Road is shut (as when the sink hole appeared in the Underpass recently), so perhaps we should be thankful that the road is there.

  • David Wickens is a former senior council official, whose work included delivering the biggest engineering project yet seen in the borough, Tramlink

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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2 Responses to High-rise flats without space threaten a road to ruin

  1. Pingback: High-rise flats without space threaten a road to ruin | LondonBiz WordPress Blog

  2. I may soon save myself the trouble of writing these comments and take to the streets like that amiable character who used to haunt Speakers Corner wearing a placard saying “It’s going to get worse”. He was right, and it will.

    The uncontrolled growth of small, non-family accommodation already in construction and planned for Central Croydon is yet another disaster in the making. For it to work in any way you need a mix of accommodation at a range of prices and sizes to attract families and young people and not only investors and money-parkers.

    For it to work as a community you need plans for more and better health services, GP surgeries, open spaces, libraries, schools, nurseries, parking space, small independent and craft shops, local cafes, arts cinemas, real theatres and so on.

    I have searched everywhere to see the Council’s plans for these, and Googled furiously to see where our estimable Gav has tried to pressure for their inclusion. To no avail.

    Without all these concomitant social provisions the housing currently being planned for Croydon is likely to lead to a ghost town in the not too far distant future. It seems more and more likely that, post-Brexit, Hammersfield, which was ill-conceived in the first place, will at best be delayed and, at worst, end up not happening at all.

    Now I must go and work on my placard and billboard.

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